Extra Lives: Maybe games shouldn’t be “games”

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In 1978, a comic book creator by the name of William Eisner popularized the term “graphic novel” in his work “A Contract with God: A Graphic Novel by Will Eisner.” Since then, graphic novels have gone on to garner much more attention and respect from the general population. Works such as “Watchmen” have gone on to receive both commercial success and critical acclaim.

Using comic books as a case study, I often wonder if something similar can be done with video games. Right now, video games simply aren’t taken seriously as an art form, an issue which I’ve explored in this blog before, but the problem arises of how to fix it. Changing the label certainly helped a bit for comic books, which were previously considered to be a medium reserved for children’s tales about superheroes. The other week, a friend of mine told me that he didn’t play video games anymore because he had “outgrown” them. This is part of what represents a general attitude I’ve seen towards video games: people think of games as toys instead of a legitimate art form. To me, saying that I will grow out of games is similar to saying that I’ll grow out of movies or novels.

Games need to be treated as a legitimate art form if the industry wants to move forward throughout the next century. If a new designation is  what’s needed to do that, then so be it. After all, it doesn’t really matter what games are called; in the end, it’s no more than a meaningless label. The problem is that the industry needs to both accept and adapt to this new kind of label in order for something like this to be successful. Also, there needs to be serious discussion about what exactly that label should be, although that might be a topic for after a time when developers are ready to jump on board with this kind of thing.

The important thing, though, is that games really do need a new label. “Games” makes me think of a board game or something of that sort. Again, this subtly implies that games are for children, not adults. Video games have come very far in the past few years in terms of being accepted as a legitimate art form, but maybe not being “games” can give that last push to see the medium more accepted by the general population.

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